CUPCAKES, LOLLIPOPS AND A “GREAT WAR”

Maybe it’s because I just returned from a week-long preaching mission (nine sermons) in Serbia—that land torn by the pincers of war through much of its recent history. Or perhaps it was this week’s reporting on the 70th anniversary of the Battle for Iwo Jima, the site of one of World War 2’s bloodiest onslaughts and the setting for the iconic picture of U.S. Marines hoisting their wind-whipped American flag atop Mt Suribachi. Whatever the reason, I must confess that in reading the opening line to Daniel 10 today, the phrase “a great war” instantly caught my attention and triggered a brooding chain of thoughts. Can you think of a more accurate defining of our times than “a great war”? It’s what we do for a living (and dying) any more on this planet! I get headline text alerts from CNN on my phone, and almost daily come soundbite reports of another mosque or church or school or marketplace or museum suicide bombing somewhere on earth (though usually from the warring heart of the Middle East). Yemen, Tunisia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Syria, Iraq, Israel—the roll-call of terrorized nations is too lengthy to enumerate. Sydney, Paris, London—even in the West we know the war of terror. “A revelation was given to Daniel—its message was true and it concerned a great war” (Daniel 10:1). The eighty year old exile, prime minister and prophet was so troubled by recent events in his world that he devoted 21 days to modified fasting and concentrated praying. And at the end of three weeks, that aged one, called by Heaven “greatly beloved,” experienced a stunning personal visitation by the pre-incarnate Christ and His trusted angel messenger Gabriel. And from the conversation that ensues (albeit dominantly one- and God-sided), the veil between us and the unseen world lifts briefly—and we gaze upon beings, celestial armies, forces of light and darkness desperately locked in battle for human allegiance. Daniel, burdened for the salvation of his people, is shown “a great war” in the highest echelons of humanity—a spiritual battle directed by the Almighty Himself to preserve a people, a movement targeted by the dark enemy for annihilation. Will evil triumph over righteousness, will the community of faith be decimated by him who seeks only our destruction? Live on this campus, live in the world, and it is more than evident the maelstrom of this “great war” surrounds us, too. Forces we know very little about have marked for eradication the spiritual values we embrace. Cloaked behind innocuous symbols like cupcakes and lollipops, it is marketing ploy as old as Eden—insinuations of doubt, whisperings of falsehoods, and the unsubtle targeting of innocents who struggle to understand the values and morality of Christ against the crescendoing drumbeat of a culture that tolerates no contrarian values and brooks no courageous opposition. “A great war” indeed—and Daniel and you and me. And the forces. Where shall we stand? I like the way my friend, Dr Skip MacCarty, has defined his stance, and I’d like you to read it prayerfully, too (though it may be a bit more explicit than you’re used to). But because his point is so logically, compassionately and persuasively made, I believe it deserves a very far and wide hearing. So please—read it, post it and retweet it (https://www.facebook.com/skip.maccarty/posts/10153167969416419). Why not take a stand in this “great war,” even as he has done? After all, “Dare to Be a Daniel” has got to be more than a childhood song. It’s the one stance you’ll be able to live with for eternity. And isn’t eternity the highest stake of all in this “great war”?  

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